Horizon High School’s theater students are experiencing the Orlando Fringe Festival stage this week and next when they debut their 75-minute musical, “The Old Man and the Old Moon.” Citrus Music has agreed to produce it.
For most, this is their first exposure to the annual theater festival.
Theater director Nicholas Wainwright said he is thrilled to introduce his students to the longest-running fringe festival on the East Coast. They recently experienced a Fringe teaser, getting to see some of the shows that will be performed and interact with some of the performers.
“This became a ‘Wow, this is real’ moment for them,” Wainwright said.
“‘The Old Man and the Old Moon’ is this deliciously whimsical story theater,” he said. “We make something from nothing. We use rudimentary props, we use bowler hats for bowls, we use shadow puppetry. Our assistant stage manager created — by just cutting cardboard — these beautiful silhouettes that we get to use. … Through use of shadow we get to tell larger-than-life stories.
The Old Man has kept his post as the sole caretaker of the moon for as long as he (or his wife, the Old Woman) can remember. When she is drawn away by a mysterious melody sparking memories of their shared past, the Old Man must decide between duty (and routine) and love (and adventure). He chooses the latter, and what follows is an imaginative sea-faring epic, encompassing apocalyptic storms, civil wars, leviathans of the deep and cantankerous ghosts, as well as the fiercest obstacle of all: change.
Wainwright said some of the performers share the stage with their instruments. He explained these are not band students but teens who picked up an instrument for the first time last summer and learned to play solely for the performance. Among them are two who learned to play the banjo and accordion.
“Once you see these students play together, you would have no idea,” Wainwright said. “The way they have rehearsed the show, and they love the show, you would think they have been playing together (a long time).”
This show originally was performed at the district competition, he said, but it was 36 minutes long. The students have been filling in the gaps and adding to the show’s length to hit the 75-minute mark.
As well as performing on the Teal Venue stage, the thespians will perform on the Loch Haven lawn throughout the festival.
Wainwright said the students have been enamored by the entire process. Last week, they attended a tech rehearsal, where they checked the entire show, programmed the lighting and met with local media to field questions about the show and festival.
“I’m really proud of them and excited for them, and, moreover, I’m excited about more of the audience to be exposed to what these students are doing,” Wainwright said. “It’s something they won’t experience in school.”
In the cast are Ace Negueruela, Nick Hawk, Dominic Pineda, Jay Liao-Troth, Aryan Cheruvattath, Maria Gonzalez, Lara Martinez and music director Maura Sitzmann.
The creative team consists of Nicholas Wainwright, director; Renata Chaves, assistant stage manager; Logan Brown, stage manager; and Odalys Lopez, assistant stage manager.
“The work that Maura Sitzmann has done with these actors is truly a feat to see and hear to believe,” Wainwright said. “I am beyond proud of their work and the story they are sharing at the festival! We started with a script, eight instruments and a trunk of props and crafted something really heartwarming.”